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How Many Lights on one Breaker?

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plug_messAlways the big question, how many lights on one breaker

I’m asked so many times how many outlets and or lights can I put on a 15 amp or 20 amp breaker. Well NEC code does not have it listed that way. By rule of thumb, you would stick with 8 to 10 outlets and or lights per breaker. Now, this is of course they are 120 volts 60 Hz (the USA or Canada).

Kitchen But let’s think of a kitchen or dining room. Just the name kitchen tells says “Countertop Microwave, blender, toaster, toaster oven” And that’s just my house. Turn all those on at once and BAM You are over and the breaker will trip. That’s why code with kitchens is very different. For a kitchen, it’s 20amp and something like two outlets per breaker and no more than four feet apart of counter space. And any counter that is more than two feet long needs an outlet. And all countertop outlets must be GFCI protected.

Garage Now in a garage, the code states that you only need one GFCI-protected outlet. Now that’s just dumb and cheap to install one outlet in a garage anyway. But hey each to their own right.

Bathrooms must also have one GFCI outlet (20 amp)

So let’s say you’re wiring a simple bedroom. My rule of thumb and code is. An outlet within six feet in either direction of the bedroom door and within 10 feet from there all around the room. So plan carefully when you get to the closets. Some simple planning and you’ll be fine.

That’s how I wired my house. And when we lost power during Hurricane Sandy we had all the lights in the house working on a generator. But that’s another story altogether.

Code recommends 1.5A per outlet @ 80% of max. That means 10 outlets on a 20A breaker or 8 outlets on a 15A breaker.

20 * 0.8 = 16 16 / 1.5 = 10.66666667 outlets
15 * 0.8 = 12 12 / 1.5 = 8 outlets

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    • Code recommends 1.5A per outlet @ 80% of max. That means 10 outlets on a 20A breaker or 8 outlets on a 15A breaker.

      20 * 0.8 = 16 16 / 1.5 = 10.66666667 outlets
      15 * 0.8 = 12 12 / 1.5 = 8 outlets

      • Thx so much for this info. It has been difficult to receive a difinitive answer. My sons house has 18 circuits on a 20 amp breaker. It is a mix of both receptacles, switches and lights with each (switch to light=1) being countined as an “outlet or circuit”. Working from home and using a laser printer in the home office (which is at the end of the line) has caused him some worrysome light dimming during printer startup.

  1. Same as Rick how to install a transfer switch, when the sevice lines are live, can it be done without calling elec. company to disconect. Whole house transfer, not just individule circuits.

    • A whole house transfer? Usually you would only do the important circuits that would be needed in case of a power outage. And in that case you would just turn those breakers off while you install the transfer switch. So moreless whenever you’re playing with the wire from the meter pan to the main breaker you would call to have that disconnected.

      • How can I tell how many light or outlets are on each breaker by looking at the panel box

        I had an electrician add lights in 2 bathrooms, he just pulled wires from the wall now my lights flicker. Does this mean he has too many lights on one breaker

        • Oh if I knew the answer to that I would be a rich man lol. Ok, so not really having too much on one breaker to cause the flickering. Give me more detail on what was changed or upgraded wise. Switches, lights?

Written by Dominick Amorosso

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